Atrium Biotechnologies Inc. is raising C$75 million (US$61.6 million) in its Canadian initial public offering to build its business.

The Quebec-based company filed a final prospectus with regulatory authorities in each Canadian province to offer 6.25 million subordinate voting shares at C$12 each. The offering consists of 4.17 million shares from Atrium, and 2.083 million shares from SGF Soquia Inc., a subsidiary of Societe generale de financement du Quebec. Atrium will receive C$50 million of the gross proceeds, and SGF will receive C$25 million.

"What we're going to do with the money is to fund future acquisitions," said John Dempsey, Atrium's vice president of finance and chief financial officer. "We should have enough for a good number of years."

Atrium is 61.1 percent owned by Quebec-based AEterna Zentaris Inc., which focuses on oncology and endocrine therapies and has 20 products in its pipeline. AEterna's approaches include LHRH antagonists and signal transduction inhibitors. Its lead LHRH antagonist, cetrorelix, which is marketed as Cetrotide for in vitro fertilization, is in late-stage clinical development for endometriosis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. The lead signal transduction inhibitor, perifosine, is in several Phase II trials for multiple cancers.

"In 2000, we were spun off from AEterna," Dempsey told BioWorld Today. "We were the cosmetics and nutrition division."

Since then, Atrium has expanded its efforts into the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Its active ingredients and specialty chemicals division offers more than 1,500 products, including 44 active ingredients developed, acquired or in-licensed by Atrium and mostly derived from biotechnologies. The remaining products are sourced from third-party manufacturers. Atrium's product portfolio includes active ingredients, specialty lipids, chemical synthesis intermediates, functional chemicals, innovative additives, preservatives and excipients. Major customers include New York-based Pfizer Inc. and Akzo Nobel NV, of Arnhem, the Netherlands.

Toronto-based RBC Dominion Securities Inc. and Montreal-based National Bank Financial Inc. led the financing's syndicate of underwriters, which included Vancouver, British Columbia-based BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., New York-based CIBC World Markets Inc., and Toronto-based firms GMP Securities Ltd., HSBC Securities Inc. and Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon Ltd.

The underwriters will have an option to acquire up to 937,500 additional subordinate voting shares to cover overallotments. If the option is exercised in full, total gross proceeds of the IPO would be C$86.25 million.

"We raised $20 million in private equity five years ago. And with that and the $50 million in cash flow we generated, we were able to build a company with $250 million in revenues on a pro-forma basis," Dempsey said. "Now, the company's raising approximately $50 million and we hope that we will grow the business significantly in the same way that we did in the past five years."

Following the IPO and not including the overallotment option, Atrium will have 14 million multiple voting shares and 14.69 million subordinate voting shares, or 28.7 million shares total, issued and outstanding. AEterna will hold 14.5 million of those shares, representing 66.8 percent of the voting rights and 50.7 percent of the total equity of Atrium.

The offering is expected to close next week, at which time Atrium's shares would begin trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.